After the age of 60, many men will develop a disease of the prostate. Among the most common are:
- Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH);
- Prostate cancer.
Causes of diseases of the prostate
Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)
Benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) is an increase in the volume of the prostate, which puts pressure on the urethra, leading to possible urinary symptoms. Age is the main risk factor associated with the development of BPH.
As is the case with all types of cancers, prostate cancer involves the growth of abnormal cells. It is often detected by an elevated level of PSA (prostate-specific antigen).
Risk factors include:
- Family history;
- Race (e.g. Black men are more at risk than Caucasian men);
- A high-fat diet.
Symptoms of diseases of the prostate
Benign prostatic hypertrophy and prostate cancer have many common symptoms. Here are a few:
- An urgent need to urinate, especially at night;
- The feeling of never being quite finished urinating, even after doing so;
- Hesitancy when starting to urinate;
- Weak or interrupted flow;
- Dribbling after urination;
- Needing to strain in order to start urinating;
- Pain during ejaculation.
These symptoms do not necessarily mean you have a disease of the prostate, but they can be warning signs for other health problems. If you experience one or more of the above symptoms, talk to a health professional. In addition, a high-caffeine diet, alcohol consumption, spicy foods and certain medications can aggravate or trigger symptoms.
Screening for diseases of the prostate
There are the two main screening methods used to determine whether a patient has BPH or prostate cancer:
- The digital rectal exam to palpate the prostate in order to detect an increase in size;
- A blood test to measure the level of PSA, a protein produced by the prostate.
If cancer is suspected, other tests will be conducted to confirm the diagnosis.
Treating diseases of the prostate
Depending on the case, it may be best to carefully monitor the progression of the disease. For instance, if symptoms are moderate and stable, this option may be considered in order to delay the start of drug therapy.
In the case of BPH, drug therapy may be prescribed when symptoms are more pronounced. There are two types of medications to treat BPH: alpha blockers, which make passing urine easier, and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, which act on the prostate hormones in order to reduce its size.
BPH can be treated with minimally invasive surgery performed through natural body openings. In cases of prostate cancer, the surgical removal of the entire prostate is often recommended. Other types of surgeries may also be suggested.
Moreover, radiation therapy, hormone therapy and chemotherapy are other options that may be considered for treating prostate cancer.
Do you have questions about diseases of the prostate and their treatment? Talk to your pharmacist. He’s there for you!